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When It Comes to Successful Fundraising, You Need More Than Luck

"They have such big pockets – this should be easy…"

I’ve had more conversations in the last 2 months about corporate giving than I’ve had in the last 2 years. Typical questions from various non -profits are along the lines of…

  • “They are giving to Organization A, why aren’t they giving to us?”

  • “Their pockets are so deep that a sponsorship for us would be just small change.”

  • “Why aren’t the usual suspects on this prospect list?”

Why? Why? Why? All great questions. It’s important to take a step back and look at today’s fundraising landscape.

  • The pockets aren’t as deep as you think. According to Charity Navigator and Giving USA, total charitable giving in the United States in 2017 $410.02 billion. Of that, corporations gave only 5% (almost $21 billion).

  • Individuals are giving 70% of all money raised.

  • Corporate giving is driven by a host of factors: the organization’s corporate social responsibility priorities at that time, the budget, timing, and in many cases a subjective personal element.

  • The corporate giving process is different for every organization.

  • Corporations, like individuals, need attention. Relationship building is key before the ask; after the ask, and relationships decide whether you get the gift or not.

  • Build your prospect list with organizations that are a fit and start with those where you have a strong relationship. Encourage your team to keep in touch, then do it.

Things you need to think about…

  • If a corporation gives to an organization like yours, it doesn’t mean they will give to you. Sometimes it can mean the opposite as they may only want to support one organization with that mission, or they may want to diversify their portfolio. Don’t despair or take the decision personally. Move on and find other organizations that want to partner with you.

There’s 7 billion people in the world. If 1% want to work with you – that means you’ve got 70 million potential partners. Don’t spend your time worrying over the one that doesn’t.
  • If an organization supports your cause one year, it doesn’t guarantee they will continue to give. Your contact may leave, the CSR initiative changes, or the relationship wasn’t nurtured in the way the corporation expected. Some of this is within your control and some of it isn’t. To paraphrase a wonderful quote, accept the things you can change and have the wisdom to know the difference. You can do better next time.

Given all this information, your chances of getting corporate support improve if you:

  • Have a well-articulated and demonstrated need that aligns with the corporation’s CSR

  • Reaching out frequently through the year will put you in touch before their budget cycle is set

  • Develop a contact to open a door for a call or meeting

  • Nurture the relationship before the gift and after the gift

  • Remember, fundraising isn't a cookie cutter approach. Be creative in structuring programs that are mutually beneficial

Finding the right corporate partner is rewarding. It can lead to a long lasting mutually beneficial relationship. This takes planning, research and on-going relationship building. Remember that corporate giving is only a small part of overall giving in the U.S. and keep this in mind as you plan your development priorities.


Brand & Buzz is a full-service strategic communications firm. We focus on solutions and deliver results. Our boutique firm is made up of experts in communications, publicity, public relations, fundraising, video production, website design and branding. Everyone is unique. Our programs are too.

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